Eclectic, diverse, and graffiti-slathered, the Kensington Market neighborhood is one of Toronto’s most distinctive enclaves. The district is packed with produce vendors, food sellers, vintage clothes shops, bric-a-brac boutiques, buskers, cafés, and restaurants, and attracts a steady stream of bohemian types.
Kensington Market is Toronto at its vibrant, multicultural best. While the neighborhood can be explored independently, going with a tour guide can be helpful. Not only can they point out the best spots for cheap eats, but they can also elaborate on the history and evolution of one of the most fascinating parts of Canada’s largest city. Toronto food tours, which also often cover spots in neighboring Chinatown and Little Italy, frequently visit the market.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Kensington Market is a must for foodies, bargain-hunters, and people-watchers.
- Bring cash. While many vendors accept credit cards, not all do, and there is often an extra charge for purchases under a certain amount.
- Try your hand at haggling. Not all vendors’ prices are fixed.
How to Get There
With limited parking and heavy traffic, driving is not advised. The best way to get here is by public transit. Take the Spadina or Bathurst streetcar to College Street, or the College or Dundas streetcar to Spadina Avenue. Both will put you just a short stroll from the market.
When to Get There
In the summer, on the last Sunday of the month, Kensington Market goes car-free, and pedestrians rule the roads, making it a particularly nice time to wander around on foot. The market is pretty much always busy, but never more so than on weekends. If you want a little extra elbow room while you browse, go midweek. Expect a reduced level of street activity in winter.
Navigating Kensington Market
For vintage shopping, browse the secondhand stores occupying the brightly painted Victorian buildings along Kensington Avenue, between Dundas Street West and Baldwin Street. Augusta Avenue, between Dundas and College streets, is the market’s bustling main strip. Turn off here onto side streets, such as Nassau Street, to find some hideaway cafés in which to rest and recoup.